The Darkest Universe (2016)

R   |    |  Comedy, Drama, Mystery


The Darkest Universe (2016) Poster

THE DARKEST UNIVERSE is BAFTA-nominated directors Will Sharpe and Tom Kingsley's surreal and hilarious follow-up to the critically acclaimed BLACK POND. Described by Sharpe and Kingsley as ... See full summary »

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5.5/10
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9 October 2018 | silvio-mitsubishi
2
| Mutual Ego Massaging
If you look into the backgrounds of the people involved in this film you will find a web of connections. Many of them were in Cambridge Footlights or have previously appeared together in Black Pond and Flowers. I am sure they are individually talented but this film seems to have grown out of a closed echo chamber, and could have benefited from an outsider giving some neutral feedback. There are some nice shots and come tenderly observed moments, but they serve only to heighten the question as to why the film exists. There is a repeated scene of Will Sharpe walking across some grass, but he is walking directly towards a hedge. He walks through a field of thigh-deep scrub, but why? Canals have towpaths and easy access.

The film is an uneasy mix of self-filmed and conventional footage with uneasy shifts. Zak's footage seems unedited, so we are expected to believe that he would post online a clip of himself demonstrating that he does not know the Greek story he is trying to tell. He enlists Toby's brother, an astrophysicist, to make a video of them crouching down to fit in the frame.

We see the story unfold interspersed with flashbacks that add little to the plot. An argument between Zac and Alice could explain her disappearance, but a later clip shows this resolved, even suggesting Zac knew she was going away.

The actors try hard to capture how somebody would behave in a very specific situation, but we ask ourselves how and why they (or any rational being) would ever get into that situation. A banker and an astrophysicist fighting over a tent anybody? A telephone conversation while using a food processor?

There is a mildly amusing moment in the first few seconds, but not enough to justify calling it comedy. Zac is described shortly after as "Typical Pratt": 'nuff said. We never really care enough about any of the characters to care what happens to them. The ending felt contrived and trite, but by that stage I don't think anything would have redeemed this navel-gazing exercise.

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